invernessGiGs has been very lucky to ask Joe Gibbs (Festival Director) a few questions about Belladrum which include the evolution of the festival, discussion about the headliners and what changes are planned for this year.
We remember the first year of Bella, watching Grim Northern Social and The Linda Gail Lewis & the Lewis Three, did you ever think the festival would evolve in the way that it has?
There was never a script for Bella, other than it should be all ages and firmly rooted in the Highland community. With those guiding principles, it has evolved organically over the years.
What things have you learnt over the 7 years of Belladrum?
This our eighth year now, but even if it was our twenty-eighth, we’d still be learning. That much we have learnt! For a festival to be successful, it needs to be a bi-polar combination of sticking with what it has done successfully combined with constantly reinventing itself and surprising its audience.
There has been a lot of discussion about the headliners, as there is every year, how do you feel about the choice of Texas and Deacon Blue?
I’m very excited about our headliners, Texas and Deacon Blue, who are two of Scotland’s most iconic bands with over 12 million album sales between them. They are both sure to put on a barnstorming performance and judging by the way ticket sales have jumped ahead since we announced them, there are a lot of people who feel the same way. Whoever you book to headline, you will never satisfy all sections of the Bella community because it is so wide. But for those who prefer more current indie music, there will be plenty on offer. For instance, Frightened Rabbit will be headlining the Hothouse Stage at the same time that Deacon Blue are on the Garden Stage. And there is a huge amount of other contemporary talent on the bill. Ed Sheeran and Frank Turner are two I’m particularly looking forward to. Bella has always been about strength in depth, not just headliners, and I think we’ve displayed that again this year.
One of the strongest aspects of Belladrum is the sense of community and family, how important is this for the festival?
Family and community are at the centre of Bella’s raison d’etre as a festival. An incredible number of community and local organisations, and charities either take part in or benefit from the event. I love the way that families take pleasure in coming to Bella together. One guy told me that he had been coming since the start with all his family. Last year, his 18-year-old son helped pitch camp in the family area, then slung his backpack over his shoulder and with a ‘So long Dad,’ went off over the hill to join his mates in general camping for the first time, leaving his father feeling that he had witnessed some silent rite of passage from youth to adulthood. But they met up in the bar later, of course! Bella is just one big party, 21st century style, for the Highland community at which we warmly welcome guests from further afield.
Every year the site plans changes , what should we expect this year?
Although the overall numbers don’t change much year on year, there are other changes within our audience. More people bring families and more bring campervans and caravans. We have reconfigured the site this year to allow for these changes. And we’ve expanded the arena to take in Belladrum walled garden; the Hielan’ Fields and a craft and environmental area will move in there, giving more space for the Tir Nan Nog kids’ area. And of course, there’ll be a few new surprises in the arena. Keep an eye out for Jock The Reaper!
Finally any news on whether you have managed to sign up Cosmic Sausage (one of the bands Joe has been keen to sign up)?
With great sadness I have to report that the Cosmic Sausages can’t make it this year … Again! Nor can Squinty McGinty and his yodelling goat herd. But Big Rory and Oche the dog are back, and plenty more…
(We wish to thanks Joe for taking the time to answer these questions)
Advance adult weekend tickets are £90. They include parking and camping, except for campervans and caravans which will be charged £30 per vehicle.. As in previous years, tickets for children 12 & under are free. Online e-tickets are available from Skiddle (www.skiddle.com) and online hard tickets from The Booth (www.thebooth.co.uk), Ticketmaster (www.ticketmaster.co.uk), Tickets Scotland (www.tickets-scotland.com), Visit Loch Ness (www.lochness.com) , and Eventim.Tickets (www.eventim.co.uk) are also available from TicketScotland in Edinburgh, and Glasgow, Ripping in Edinburgh, Grouchos in Dundee, One-Up in Aberdeen, The Ironworks, Mania, Hootenanny’s, HMV and Eden Court in Inverness; Off The Peg in Dingwall, Sound & Vision in Elgin, Macallans in Wick and Thurso, Morrisons Ironmongers in Beauly and Kiltarlity Post Office.